Missile Proliferation and the Strategic Balance in South Asia
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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The United States has long been concerned about the proliferation of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems in South Asia. This concern became acute after May 1998, when both India and Pakistan tested nuclear explosive devices. Since that time, both countries have continued testing nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, and both have established command and control authorities to oversee their nuclear arsenals. India and Pakistan have fought three wars since 1947 and have significant unsettled territorial disputes. Although the status of weaponization is unclear, a slow-speed arms race appears to be underway on the Asian Subcontinent, and the proliferation of missile capabilities in South Asia has been identified as a potentially major threat to regional stability and to key U.S. foreign policy goals. A persistent aspect of U.S. engagement in the region has been the difficulty of maintaining a balanced approach toward two antagonistic countries while simultaneously promoting perceived U.S. interests. During the 1990s, U.S. security policy toward South Asia focused on preventing weapons proliferation, but the Bush Administration shifted to a more pragmatic approach emphasizing restraint in this area. For perhaps the first period in history the United States currently enjoys simultaneously positive relations with both countries. While relationships between the United States, India, and Pakistan have taken on a positive hue, potential for regional instability persists. The strategic capabilities of India and Pakistan could provide a ready catalyst for transforming disputes or terrorist incidents into potentially cataclysmic confrontations. Both countries also are pursuing the development or acquisition of missile defense systems. This report analyzes the policy implications of missile proliferation in South Asia, providing information on Indias and Pakistans missile programs and their role in regional security.
- Government and Political Science
- Antimissile Defense Systems
- Guided Missiles
- Nuclear Weapons